Sandwiches are one of the most popular meal choices for lunch, dinner or anytime. They’re portable, easy to make and delicious. Sandwiches are the perfect party food whether they are small tea sandwiches or giant 6-foot heroes. They travel well for picnics and outdoor get-togethers and you don’t need utensils to eat them. The only problem with sandwiches is that, depending on how we make them, they can be high in calories and fat. With the weather getting warmer and our layers of clothing getting fewer, the last thing we want or need is a heavy sandwich that will weigh us down. That doesn’t mean that sandwiches are off the menu; it just means we need to make smarter choices about how we make them. Here are some tips for how to lighten up sandwiches for the summer.

1. Use Better Bread

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We need to start with the bread because, let’s face it, the bread is important. It’s what turns the food into a sandwich. When choosing the bread for your sandwich, reach for bread made with whole grains. Whole grain bread will have much more fiber and fill you up faster than bread made with refined ingredients. Learn How to Make High-Protein, Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread that has no refined ingredients. Make your sandwich with Whole Wheat Sourdough Ciabatta, Whole Wheat French Bread, Vegan Challah or Whole Wheat Garlic and Herb Vegan Sandwich Buns. If you need gluten-free choices, there are plenty. Try this Ooh La La Gluten-Free French Bread, Vegan and Gluten-Free Challah, Onion Corn Bread, and get Tips on How to Make Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread (And a Recipe!). Raw foodies need to learn how to make this Raw, Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread and check out 7 Breads That Don’t Require an Oven.

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2. Use Different Bread

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Another way to lighten up sandwiches is to choose something besides sliced bread, rolls and buns. We can swap out the bread for lighter options like wraps, pitas and tortillas. A tortilla has fewer calories than a lot of breads and you only need one to make a wrap. Choose tortillas with whole grains, sprouted grains or corn like these Corn Tortillas made with masa harina. Try these Kale Avocado Wraps with Spicy Miso-Dipped Tempeh in sprouted grain tortillas. Check out 7 Ways to Make Grain-Free Wraps and Tortillas for recipes with chickpea flour, amaranth flour, almond flour and coconut flour. Learn how to make Homemade Pita Bread and Whole Wheat Pita Bread. Then get inspiration from these 6 Creative Pita Sandwich Ideas.

3. Or Use No Bread

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Ok, so technically, a sandwich has bread but we think it should still count if we sandwich our food between something other than bread. Did you know you can make wraps out of eggplant or cauliflower? It’s true! You can make Cauliflower Tortillas and Baked Eggplant Wraps and use them to wrap up your favorite fillings. Leafy greens like collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage and lettuce make excellent wraps. Learn How to Make Raw Vegan Veggie-Stuffed Collard Wraps and try these Hummus Collard Wraps. Use lettuce to make these Grilled Artichoke and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps or summer squash to make Raw Zucchini Wraps. These Rawsome Wraps use spinach wraps. Wraps can also be made with more ingredients than just veggies. With just three ingredients, you can make these amazing Mango Coconut Basil Wraps or get your Omega-3s with these Unbelievable Raw Vegan Nori Wraps with Spicy Dipping Sauce.

Breadless sandwiches don’t have to mean wraps though. Use two Portobello mushrooms as your sandwich bun as in this Portobello Mushroom Burger with Cauliflower Cashew Cheese. Similarly, make “rolls” out of zucchini or cucumbers by slicing them in half lengthwise and removing the seeds and some of the flesh to make boats that can hold the fillings. Make “buns” out of tomatoes by cutting them in half and removing some of the flesh and seeds. Fill them with your favorite Vegan Chicken Salad.

4. Choose Smart Fillings

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The fillings are the whole reason you’re making a sandwich in the first place. Choose smart fillings that are high in protein so less will fill you up more. Make sure whatever your fillings are that they are packed with flavor. Making a tofu or tempeh sandwich? My votes go to this Buffalo Tofu Po’ Boy with Apple Slaw and this Maple Sriracha Tempeh BLT with Creamy Dill Mayo. Seitan worshippers will love these Pineapple BBQ Jack Seitan Sandwiches.

Get tons of protein when your sandwich fillings are made with beans and legumes. Try these Healthy and Delicious Black Bean Wraps, Patty Melts made with navy beans, Chickpea “Tuna” Salad,  and Ranch Pitas with Roasted Potatoes and Chickpeas. Make “Egg” Salad Sandwiches with tofu and kale. Hummus is always a popular choice for sandwiches and wraps. Try some delicious Rosemary with Roasted Garlic Hummus, Quick, Easy and Delicious Black Hummus or any of these 8 Unique Ways to Make Hummus. Lentils are high in protein and make amazing sandwiches like this Vegan Lentil BBQ Meatball Sandwich and these Lentil Taco Lettuce Wraps. Don’t forget nuts and seeds. These UnTuna Wraps are made with walnuts, olives and relish. Yum! For more ideas, see Quick Ideas for Sandwich and Wrap Fillings.

5. Up the Veggies

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Veggies are healthy, delicious and they have protein too! Turn your sandwich into pure veggie heaven by flavoring it up, marinating the vegetables first, spicing them up or roasting them. Make this Roasted Eggplant Sandwich with Caramelized Onions, Sloppy Mexican-Spiced Vegan Sandwich, and Mediterranean Panini. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Roasting Vegetables for tips on how to roast every kind of veggie. Be adventurous with veggies that may be new to you and try this Jackfruit Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich or Hearts of Palm Lobster Rolls. If you love cauliflower, you’ll have trouble deciding between these Buffalo Cauliflower Lettuce Wraps and these Tandoori Cauliflower Lettuce Wraps. I say make both! Of course, your veggies don’t have to be cooked to be scrumptious. You won’t feel like you’re missing anything when you have this Raw Vegan Tomato Cucumber Sandwich on Onion Corn Bread or this Easy Fixx Veggie Sandwich.

6. Healthy Toppings

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Besides the main ingredient, the toppings are also important. They add texture and flavor and can turn an ordinary sandwich into an extraordinary one. Lettuce and tomatoes are great but they can be boring. There are tons of choices for filling up our sandwiches. Instead of lettuce, try spinach, kale, shredded cabbage, or arugula. Swap out watery tomatoes with roasted red peppers or radishes. This Vegan Humdinger Sandwich has hummus which is topped with carrots, cucumber, avocado and alfalfa sprouts while The Cracked Sandwich tops hummus with avocado and sun-dried tomatoes. This beautiful Tempeh Tomato Herb Sandwich even has edible flowers! This Tempeh Reuben has healthy sauerkraut, this Vietnamese Tofu Banh Mi has pickled daikon and carrots, and this Baked Tofu Caesar Sandwich has avocado and a Caesar salad in it.

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7. Consider the Condiments

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Condiments don’t have to be high in fat to have lots of flavor. There are lots of low-fat, lighter choices that can be the perfect finishing touch for your sandwich. Spreads add flavor as well as moisture and creaminess to your sandwich so be creative. There are so many choices for spreads, more than just mustard and mayo. Use vinaigrettes, pesto, tapenades, barbecue sauce, chutney or salsa. Get creative and use hummus, mushroom pate or white bean dip for a thick and creamy spread that’s also healthy. Make your own Low-Fat Ranch Dressing, miso dressing or tahini dressing.

Don’t count mustard and mayo out of the picture entirely. Jazz them up by mixing other ingredients into them and make zippy Horseradish-Mustard Mayo or a pretty Red Pepper Aioli. Remember, vegan mayo is healthier mayo and you can even make your own. Or hold the mayo and use avocado instead. It’s just as creamy and it has healthy fats and nutrients. For more ideas, see How to Take Condiments from Ordinary to Extraordinary.

8. Less is More

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A final way to make sandwiches lighter is to eat less of them. That sounds obvious, I know but there are creative ways to do it. By making sandwiches open-faced or tartines, you automatically eat half the bread. Try it with this Sweet Potato Bruschetta and these Asparagus Tofu Tartines with Light Hollandaise Sauce. If you prefer your sandwiches to have bread on both the top and the bottom, then eat a half-sandwich. When eating out, I often used to take away one piece of the bread, cut the other in half and pile all my filling between that one piece of bread. It was less but the sandwich was so thick, it felt like more. Hey, whatever works.

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Sandwiches and summertime go together like sun and surf. If you’re trying to eat lighter in the warmer months, you can still have sandwiches. With these tips, you can enjoy lighter, but still delicious, sandwiches all summer long.

Lead Image Source: Ranch Pitas With Roasted Potatoes and Chickpeas